The ‘funemployed’ Will & Woody
Will & Woody have been heard on the Today network since mid 2011 doing various shifts, from late nights, to weekends, to national fill-in gigs.
At the moment they are no longer on the radio and are “funemployed”, as Woody describes it.
Today we find out more about the duo – how they were discovered, their approach to prep, what they learnt while at SCA and what's next for them.
Mark: Your entry into radio seemed to come from nowhere. What is your background ?
Woody: For a couple of years we were doing live sketch stage comedy, pretty low key stuff, they were just little short skits that we did on a small stage which was stained with alcohol. We were lucky enough that Steve Vizard was in the crowd on one of the nights and he saw a spark.
Will: Literally, we were doing a sketch about a fire (laughs)
Woody: When we recovered from the fire in the pub he asked if we wanted to come in and have a chat about working in the industry. We had that chat and then a few weeks later through him and Mark Klemens, who’s at Profile Talent where Steve consults, we arranged to do a radio demo at Fox FM.
Will went away for a bit which put a spanner in the works but when he came back we did another demo and then we were on late nights doing Monday nights 10pm til midnight for a couple of weeks then we progressed to 2 a week which really put a strain on how much we were working. We started in August and that was until December and then we got asked to fill in on national breakfast for a few weeks around Christmas in 2011.
Will: Then we were offered a gig to do weekends. So we did that for a whole year and then we filled in on Matt & Jo for a little while when Matt went away cycling and then filled in mid-year and Christmas again.
Mark: How did the sketch comedy come about ?
Woody: We both did drama at school and both pretty good mates. We liked performing live but it was something that dropped away after school and then we decided to give it a crack and have some fun with it. We love doing it. We love working together and making comedy.
Will: The law review scene in Melbourne for some of the bigger uni’s is sort of a breeding ground for comedy. I think Jo Stanley started out doing the comedy review as well, it’s a really good place to start off. Steve Vizard started out doing law review’s, Shaun Micallef went through it, Charlie Pickering, it’s an institution actually.
Mark: When you were discovered by Steve, was radio even on the radar for you ?
Will: Not at all
Mark: It must have been a wild ride from being discovered to now. Does it feel like a bit of a blur ?
Woody: It happened unbelievably fast. What started as a little chat thinking we maybe on an ad or something like for the RACV but the next thing we knew we were on radio. When Profile Talent Management mentioned radio we recorded a bit of stuff on our iPhone, we’d sit around and just talk shit as we do. That was a year and a half ago and then we were doing national breakfast.
Will: The recording on the iPhone was painful for all involved (laughs) wherever we did it.
Mark: It may seem silly but it’s about practice and being able to capture that natural conversation and it surely helped you with your craft.
Will: I remember saying to Dave Cameron (Fox FM Content Director – right) that we did that he was, exactly as you were saying, really impressed that we had gone and done that. It was about having that conversation and then moving that conversation from in your lounge room to on the air.
Woody: It did feel very awkward at first when we’d sit at a table and talk into an iPhone. At the start it was very jittery and pretty stupid. Once you got over the fact you were being recorded the natural conversation started to flow and it helped a lot if we did that before a demo. When you’re in a studio and you’ve got a microphone in front of you it can be hard to get that natural flowing conversation going but it helped that we know each other so well.
Mark: Can you remember the very first break you did in your radio demo ?
Woody: It was….I went to a service station and I was buying some lubricant. The advertising on the package said ‘glow in the dark lube’ which I was very excited about. I rushed home to my girlfriend and covered myself head to toe in this lube, turned the lights off to be disappointed that unfortunately I wasn’t glowing in the dark like Buzz Lightyear. I looked back at the bottle and it said in very clear writing on the front, ‘note: the lube is not glow in the dark, the tube is glow in the dark’ (laughs)
Will: She came home to think an elephant had sneezed all over him (laughs)
Mark: And there started your radio career !
Mark: How did it feel after that very first demo ?
Will: We had an absolute blast. Ben Wasley (Giggling Ben – left) came and picked us up from the elevators. He’s obviously a bit of a personality and bit of a character himself and he was just a really loving, really interesting bloke. He’s got such a great laugh and such a recognisable voice and he really guided us through it and laughed the whole way. We both walked out and we tried to keep it cool for about 50 metres, then I think we broke the elevator on the way down ‘coz we were jumping up and down because it was so much fun, we had an absolute blast. It was a bit infectious really once you get going and all you want to do is more of it.
Mark: And having that someone there in the studio that is like your audience, you can look at them, bounce off them, they react to what you’re doing like an audience would in a live show. It’s an important thing to have starting out do you think ?
Woody: Yeah. Ben’s been great, he’s been our panel op since that first day. He spoke to Dave Cameron and said he wanted to panel us. He was there all through the late nights and the weekends. It was great having his mature head around us 2 idiots who had no idea what they were doing.
Mark: What’s the most important lesson you learnt about radio ?
Woody: Will might disagree with me but Sam Cavanagh (right), he was the big turning point for us. He talked about the fact radio is so fast moving, there’s a new break every couple of minutes and everyday you’re coming up with new stuff. You can’t get bogged down thinking yesterday’s show was awesome or sit around thinking yesterday’s show was bad and let that get you down. You just have to go with it, that’s when you’re really doing radio. If something goes wrong, keep going. We both love that. That’s how your best stuff comes about. You have a certain direction you’re going and something might happen to take you on a different course. A bad thing would be to stop that happening and bring it back, a good thing is to go ‘you know what this has happened, let’s roll with it’. It takes some confidence but once you’re doing it, it’s awesome.
Mark: Along the way did you get any advice or learn lessons from other radio talent ?
Will: I remember Ben (Wasley) said to us one time that at the start of his career he was told constantly to cover up his mistakes on-air. In the latter part of his career he’s made a career out of making his mistakes known to everyone. It makes it more realistic, more live.
I also distinctly remember Matt Tilley saying to us to try and make things a little more self-depracating when you’re talking about something you don’t understand. Rather than flying into a topic saying what’s the deal with this and being condescending about something you don’t know, it’s much better to go in saying ‘hey, I think I’m the idiot here, I don’t quite get this’.
Mark: It’s always interesting to ask how different shows go about their prep. How do you approach it ?
Woody: When we first started we were preparing everything too much to the extent that we would almost go through the break before we did it and then just try and re-do it on-air. Later on we started going ‘okay there are some things I’m just not going to tell Will anything about’ and vice versa or this is the general jist of what I’m going to talk about but I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to say.
That way you get their initial reaction and you can really hear it whether it’s a laugh or an honest answer to something that’s been said.
Mark: You can probably now appreciate why radio often say a new show can take 1-2 years to develop.
Will: Yeah absolutely. We’ve admired Hamish & Andy for our entire teenage years, they’re amazing. We would still stick around at Fox and watch them operate because we both find them fascinating. It’s a well oiled machine, so smooth, so lovely to listen to. The tempo that they manage to get. Dave Cameron once said to me that one thing that Andy does is he’ll have an idea and he’ll put it at the top of the page and he’ll put 2 or 3 arguments for and against what he’s said. Then with whatever Hamish goes with he can just read down with the other side. He told me to give that a shot with Woody and it works really well.
But trying to find that dynamic, getting the tempo right, the flow and that natural sound, it does take time and I don’t think we hit our straps until 8-9 months into our first year. And even then we still have so much more to do.
Woody: Every show we’re still learning something new. At the end of the day we’ve only done radio for a bit over a year. We still love it when things go wrong ‘coz they’re the things you learn from.
Mark: How do you guys react to people saying you are the next Hamish & Andy ?
Woody: You get flattered. To be compared to, in our opinion, the best radio duo ever. But I think the main comparison comes from two young boys at the same network so straight away people are going to draw those.
Will: But whilst it is flattering it’s not exactly something you want to hear because we don’t think we’re anywhere near as good as them, maybe it’s something to aspire to in the future. But you do want to have your own brand and I think distinguishing ourselves from them has been something we’ve tried to do. The problem we kept finding all the way through is that we would pitch an idea and someone in the room would say ‘oh yeah Hamish & Andy did that’ (laughs) and then everyone would go on for the next 10 minutes about how funny theirs was.
Mark: What other radio shows do you listen to ?
Woody: The Nova drive show, Meshel, Tim & Marty (right), I think they get that natural conversation. Tony Martin is obviously the benchmark with Martin / Molloy.
Will: I still hear Mick Molloy on Hot Breakfast with his one-liners. His timing is impeccable.
Woody: We’re both massive sports fans. We listen to the football on the radio and I think a lot of the dynamics and a lot of the chat between commentators these days is actually really good.
Mark: You’re currently not on-air, what happened to put a pause on it ?
Woody: We’re still in discussions with SCA and the door is definitely not closed there. We’d love to be doing radio right now and we definitely want to be doing it in the future, but given our study commitments it’s just a matter of the right opportunity coming up I guess.
Will: I told Woody that when he asked for half a million dollars a show it just wasn’t going to work for anybody.
Woody: We want to be the first billion dollar duo (laughs)
Will: The doors not closed at SCA but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking elsewhere. We’re just keen to get back into it.
Woody: It’s about the timing, where it is and the money is not a deciding factor for us at all.
Will: We’d do it for free to be honest.
Mark: I bet your management won’t be allowing that.
Woody: Look, if you said there’s an opportunity and it was the right thing for us, we’d take it in a second.
Mark: Well guys, let’s hope the perfect gig pops up for you in the not too distant future.
Woody: Thanks so much Mark, we really appreciate it.
We spoke with Craig Bruce, Head of Content for SCA about Will & Woody. He said:
“We offered the boys a handful of regional breakfast opportunities but given Will had study commitments they needed to stay in Melbourne this year. (I was keen to give them as much airtime as possible to help speed up their development).
We are still looking for ways to create an extra spot in the national roster for them, obviously we would love to keep them and continue to train them.”
You can hear Will & Woody in action via their podcast here and launching shortly will be their new podcast 'Will and Woody, Stripped Down'.